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The term 'the Crown' is used in three slightly different ways in UK legal documentation; it can mean:

  1. the person of the monarch, as a private individual, or
  2. the office of the monarcy, or
  3. the corporation of the Crown, which includes the ministers of the Government and their Departments, and the Civil Service.

Until the passage of the Crown Proceedings Act (1947), all three of these had privileged positions in law. Now, the Crown as a corporate body has the same kind of legal status as any other corporation (see: Corporation) and can be sued in the courts. In particular, the Crown is liable for tort (see: Tort) and breach of contract. In addition, the doctrine of vicarious liability now applies to the Crown (see: Vicarious liability). Action against the Crown is directed at the Government Department responsible, or at the Attorny-General (see: Attorney-general) if no Department can be identified. The Treasury publishes a list of solicitors that accept service of process for actions of this kind. The monarch, both as an office and a person, remains immune from prosecution.